Sermon for Oct 2

By on October 2, 2016

Grace In the Midst of the Flood

Preached to Clark’s Chapel UMC on 2 Oct 2016

Genesis 6:5-9; 7:17-8:1; 9:12-16

NIV Genesis 6:5 ¶ The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth– men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air– for I am grieved that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

9 ¶ This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

NIV Genesis 7:17 ¶ For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. 21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished– birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. 24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

NIV Genesis 8:1 ¶ But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

NIV Genesis 9:12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

 

Introduce / Establish Need

 

We end our series on Genesis with an overview of the Noah story.  Noah, the flood, and the ark is a story we have heard in the church and even within our culture, as the recent Hollywood movie tried to portray.  It is a practical story that has given us these nuggets of wisdom:

  • Don’t miss the boat.
    • Remember that we are all in the same boat.
    • Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
    • Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
    • Speed isn’t everything; the snails were on board with the cheetahs.
  • Remember the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
    • No matter what the storm, when you are with God there’s always a rainbow waiting.

 

While these are humorous, I want to remind you that Noah’s story is a serious story.  It has multiple layers of understanding while addressing the consequences of sin and the redeeming grace of God. We begin with the idea that God was grieved by human behavior. (Read Gen 6:5-9)

 

Into the Biblical World

 

It isn’t hard today to imagine a world in which the pervasive thoughts of people are evil all the time.  Our news tells us of riots, killing, and other evil behavior to one another.  I heard on the news this week that last year, there were over 1.2 million violent crimes committed in the United States.  We celebrate violence in entertainment and don’t get me started on the decreasing moral boundaries that are acceptable today.

 

Yet as bad as we think we have it, the Bible portrays Noah as the one man of righteousness in a time of evil.  The most telling part of the introduction to Noah is that he walked with God.  Walking with God means one is in step with God going in the same direction.  That means Noah knows the difference between righteousness and evil.  He chooses to be obedient to God.  In fact, as God gives Noah the command to build the ark and gather the animals, the Bible says twice that Noah did everything that God commanded of him.  No wonder that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

 

The story turns to the flood. (Read Gen 7:17-8:1) We are well aware of the danger and power of a flood.  We’ve seen floodwaters on TV.  I’ve witnessed flooding of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers that was quite extensive.  We’ve seen the devastation of flooding in our mountains here.  There is a sense of helplessness as the waters rise and sweep away or cover everything in their path.  The biblical flood trumps them all and we are told that everything perished for a time except for what was alive in the ark.  And yet, God is in control.  He sends a wind and stops the rain.  The earth becomes habitable again.  The key phrase in this section of scripture is that God remembers Noah, his family, and all of the animals.  They are in his care.  I like to think of it this way: God remembers our prayers as we dance in our ark amidst the floodwaters.  God sustains us too.

 

When the floodwaters receded, Noah began a new life.  Scripture records that the first thing he did was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice.  God was pleased and offered a covenant which is now our third reading.  (Gen 9:12-16)  This covenant is a reminder that God will never destroy all life with a flood.  The rainbow is a reminder and a sign of life and grace.

 

Into Our Experience

 

Noah’s story ends with the sign of life and grace.  A lot of history happened until God sent his son to become our sign of life and grace.  Through his death, we attain new life, we experience a new creation, just as Noah did.  Let this be a reflective thought as we come to Communion on this World Communion Sunday.

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